PODCAST: Coronavirus is America’s third leading cause of death in 2021 (UCNN 04.24.22)

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According to the Daily Mail, Covid was America’s third leading cause of death in 2021 for the second consecutive years, with the nation actually recording 65,000 more deaths last year than the previous despite the prevalence of the vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that 415,399 Americans dies from the virus last year, up from 350,831 in the pandemic’s first year. Only heart disease and cancer – which were the leading causes of death in America even before the pandemic – killed more than the virus. Neither condition saw much year-to-year change. A majority of Covid deaths that occurred last year happened right at the start of 2021, when the deadliest surge to date took place in January and February, and during the summer Delta variant surge. The CDC released the provisional data as part of its weekly mortality report. Full, final, results may not be available until November, though provisional data is unlikely to fall too far from official figures. In total, around 3.4 million Americans died of any cause in 2021, a slight increase from the 3.3 million deaths the agency reported a year earlier.

According to ABC News, A man opened fire from his apartment window in a “sniper-style” shooting in Washington, D.C., on Friday, injuring four people, before the suspect took his own life. D.C. police responded to the Cleveland Park and Van Ness areas around 3:20 p.m. and found three shooting victims — two men and a 12-year-old girl, authorities said. The two men are in critical but stable condition, while the child was hospitalized in stable condition with a minor gunshot wound, police said at a Friday evening press briefing. One of the men was a retired Metropolitan police officer, authorities said. A fourth victim who sustained a gunshot wound later came forward to police. The victim — a woman in her mid-60s — had a graze wound to her upper back and received medical treatment on site, police said. The suspect died by suicide in his apartment when police closed in, according to Metropolitan Police Department Police Chief Robert Contee.

According to the Guardian, A senior member of the Hillsong church has written an explosive letter to the church’s global board criticising the handling of complaints against its former head Brian Houston and his leadership style. John Mays, the church’s head of people and development, recommended in the letter dated 19 March that Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, should be permanently sacked from Hillsong, saying Brian Houston “considered himself beyond disciplinary boundaries” and defied them “without further recourse from those responsible for his discipline”. “Unfortunately, I believe this typifies the leadership that is foundational to many unhealthy people practices employed within our Church based on my observations over many years,” Mays wrote. Houston resigned on 23 March, after internal investigations found he had engaged in inappropriate conduct of “serious concern” with two women, which “breached the Hillsong Pastor’s Code of Conduct”. Mays said employees of the church were asked to believe insulting “dribble” put out by the board to explain Houston’s alleged visit to a woman’s room at a conference in 2019. He said directors involved in managing the situation should consider resigning, having “failed in their governance and fiduciary obligations”, and called for an independent inquiry into the decisions of the church’s top body. The church has undergone weeks of tension, during which at least one of the eldership has resigned, and nine of the 16 US branches of Hillsong have split from the church.

According to VICE News, At the beginning of 2022, a TikTok video of a tearful woman talking about friendship and loneliness made the rounds on Twitter. “I have people who love me and who care about me but it was so clear that I’m a Tier 2 or a Tier 3 friend and that resulted in me having to spend the last two years literally alone [during lockdown],” she says. “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what did I do in my life that resulted in me being so lonely right now… I thought that I had cultivated a stronger community.” Twitter users were split. “​​Thinking of anyone going through this. I’ll be your friend,” writes one. “Grow up and go meet people,” says another. “The friends you make are contingent on your actions and the energy you give. The real question is what type of friend were you?” Although the reactions varied dramatically in scope, it’s undeniable that friendship and loneliness were put under the microscope thanks to the pandemic. Two years on from the start of lockdown measures, 30 percent of young people say they don’t know how to make new friends and they’ve never felt more alone, according to a study by the Prince’s Trust. Loneliness appears to be more pervasive than ever, but it’s difficult to say if virus-enforced isolation was the cause – or whether it just revealed a crisis that was waiting to happen. In previous years, younger people (aged 16-24) weren’t considered to be a “lonely” demographic. But in 2015, the BBC’s Loneliness project surveyed over 50,000 people and found their rates of loneliness were similar to that of elderly people. “There are so many life transitions that go on at that stage of life,” says Dr Timothy Matthews PhD, whose psychiatry research focuses on loneliness in young people. According to Matthews’ research, those who experience loneliness in secondary school leave with lower qualifications and are more likely to struggle with coping with everyday stress, experience sleep problems and suffer from depression and anxiety. “It’s when people are finishing school and they might be going away to university, moving out of the family home or out of town while trying to establish themselves as independent adults. If they struggle to navigate those successfully, it could be quite an isolating experience.”

According to CBS News, Kurt Russell, a history teacher from Oberlin High School in Ohio, has been named the 2022 National Teacher of the Year.  He was selected out of four finalists by the non-profit Council of Chief State School Officers. His students say he is known for emphasizing cultural relevance and representation through his classes. “He’s enthusiastic and relates his curriculum to real-world experiences,” Oberlin High School Senior Nia Mitchell said. “He does a really good job of fostering conversations where everyone can have a perspective,” another student said. Russell told “CBS Mornings” that he is proud of the school district he works for and that he gets his inspiration from his students. “Each and every day my children bring a scent of respect, a scent of an eagerness to learn, and I am just fortunate that I am part of this great education,” Russell said. Russell grew up in the South and lived through several historical events. This, he said, shaped his desire to become a history teacher. He’s been teaching for 25 years and told “CBS Mornings” he’s always looking for new ways to talk to students about societal issues. As the 2022 National Teacher of the Year, Russell will meet with first lady Jill Biden at the White House. He said he wants to communicate the importance of diverse hiring within schools across the nation.

According to USA Today, CNN+, the online streaming service that debuted March 29, is dead, or at least dying: It will shut down for good April 30. As in any implosion, there is a host of factors behind it, but the biggest is Discovery’s acquisition of WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company. The merger became official April 8; the new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, wasted no time cleaning house. Chris Licht, the incoming chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide, said in a statement Thursday the decision was made “to cease operations of CNN+ and focus our investment on CNN’s core news-gathering operations and in further building CNN Digital.” “This is not a decision about quality; we appreciate all of the work, ambition and creativity that went into building CNN+, an organization with terrific talent and compelling programming,” Licht said. “But our customers and CNN will be best served with a simpler streaming choice.” Translation, for those who don’t speak corporate: Customers don’t need it, don’t want it and aren’t going to pay for it. Some programming may find its way to a single-destination streaming service that will combine Discovery+ and HBO Max.

According to FOX 4, Stephen Curry is putting down the basketball and picking up the golf clubs for a good cause. The professional basketball player is launching his own golf tour, aimed at providing access and opportunity to underrepresented student-athletes. The tour, called Underrated, announced the launch citing its commitment to balancing participation in the sport “to truly reflect our society.” “Our passion is rooted in statistics. Today there are only two Black men in the top 100 worldwide rankings and only one Black woman in the top 300,” Underrated Golf wrote on its website, adding, “Meanwhile, Tiger Woods, who is recognized as the most important golfer of all time, is of Thai, White, Black and Native American descent. Although his reign on the sport is celebrated, the number of professional golfers coming up in his shoes continues to be less and less.” The Underrated golf tour is scheduled to kick off in June in Chicago and finish in late August in San Francisco. “Steph Curry is launching his own golf tour, aimed at increasing opportunities for underrepresented golfers: The UNDERRATED Golf,” Front Office Sports wrote on social media. “The top 24 boys and girls will compete for the Curry Cup on the all-expense-paid tour, promoting their talents on a national stage.”

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

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